When you hear the phrase, “Home Sweet Home”, what comes to mind? Perhaps warm, happy memories spent with family or the feeling of being safe within a chosen, personal environment. Unfortunately, some families don’t get to experience these feelings of safety and happiness. This could be the case for a variety of reasons. Because of that fact, I picked the 2000 movie, Taming Andrew, for Realweegiemidget Reviews’ and Taking Up Room’s Home Sweet Home Blogathon. The second reason why I selected this particular film is because of the subject matter itself. When it comes to cinematic stories that revolve around kidnapping, we mostly get two kinds of films; a movie that primarily focuses on the kidnapping or a movie where the supposed kidnapping victim’s identity is questioned. Taming Andrew is about the aftermath of a kidnapping, when a missing child is found. Since that specific storyline is not often found in film, I wanted to see this story unfold.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: In Taming Andrew, there were some acting performances that stood out to me. The most notable one came from Seth Adkins, whose portrayal of the titular character stole the show! When a story revolves around a young character, casting a young actor or actress who can, talent-wise, carry most of the movie is essential. With Seth’s performance, it contained the emotional weight you would expect from a film of this nature. As Andrew’s mother, Gail, is helping Andrew get ready for bed-time, he refuses to show his mother any amount of affection. Andrew turns away from Gail and irritation can be seen on his face. When Gail turns off the light in Andrew’s room, he immediately screams, as the dark room reminds Andrew of what he experienced during the kidnapping. Another good performance came from Jason Beghe! Portraying Andrew’s stepfather, Eddie, Jason presented his character with a sense of realism. As Eddie and Gail are discussing recent events involving Andrew, Eddie is concerned about the safety of their baby. This scene showcases how Eddie’s acting talents appeared natural. Shannon Lawson portrayed Deena, Gail’s friend and co-worker. What made her performance memorable was how she was able to balance a sassy and serious persona. At the beginning of the film, Gail is sharing her fears about her ex-husband with Deena. Filled with concern in her face and words, Deena tells Gail that she’ll stand by her friend, offering to help Gail if she needed it. Later in the movie, when Gail is leaving her job in order to homeschool her son, Deena jokingly agrees that no one will replace Gail at work. These scenes are a good example of Shannon’s versatility when it comes to her acting talents!
Exploring the aftermath of a kidnapping: As I mentioned in the introduction, Taming Andrew focuses on the aftermath of a kidnapping. This means the story primarily shows what happens after Andrew is found. It was interesting to see the journey of a kidnapping victim overcoming their trauma. Because of Seth’s performance and because the script emphasizes Andrew’s emotional, psychological, and educational struggles, it effectively shows how a horrific situation like Andrew’s can affect a child. I also said the aftermath of a kidnapping is not often found in cinema. Since this is the case, I’m glad Taming Andrew chose this route for their script. It highlights what some individuals and families face, as well as address how one person’s decision can cause a ripple effect.
The inclusion of The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: In one scene, when Gail and her mother are watching television, they see a news report featuring Gail. This report shows Gail making a speech about her missing son. During the speech, a banner for The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is briefly shown. Buttons and posters displaying the photos of other missing children can also be seen on the television screen. The inclusion of the banner, buttons, and posters was a subtle, yet effective way of showcasing how big of an issue children’s safety really is. It highlights how abduction can take place at any time for any person as well.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Andrew’s return is treated as no big deal: Like I just mentioned, Gail was featured on the news making a speech about her missing son. This news report was on a local news station, with the report itself taking place five months after Andrew was kidnapped. When Andrew returns five years later, no news reports are made about him. In fact, the event itself seems to be no big deal for almost anyone outside of Andrew’s family. Because Taming Andrew is based on true events, I, personally, find it hard to believe the aforementioned local news station wouldn’t cover Andrew’s return. Looking back on missing persons stories where the missing person was found alive, those types of stories tend to receive a lot of attention from the news.
A rushed journey: Even though Andrew’s personal journey was interesting to watch, I found it to be, at times, rushed. One example can be seen toward the beginning of Andrew’s journey. At an evaluation meeting, the medical professionals tell Gail that her son might need to be placed in a school for children who benefit from special education. A few moments later, the audience can see Gail taking Andrew to traditional public school. I know there is only so much story you can tell in an hour and twenty-eight minutes. However, it felt like important steps from point A to point B were missing.
The events of the kidnapping revealed at the end of the movie: When a movie’s story is about a kidnapping, the biggest question on almost every audience member’s mind is what happened during the event itself. These stories, more often than not, show or tell what happened as a way to provide the audience with a sense of closure. Taming Andrew does reveal how Andrew became traumatized by the kidnapping. However, this information isn’t presented until the end of the film. I understand those who have faced traumatic situations face their trauma at their own pace. But, as I already said, there is only so much story you can tell in an hour and twenty-eight minutes. With that said, the events surrounding Andrew’s kidnapping should have been revealed sooner.
My overall impression:
Whenever I participate in a blogathon, I try to choose a film or topic that brings something different to the table. That is certainly the case for Taming Andrew, as it presents the aftermath of a kidnapping. I’m glad a film like this exists because it sheds light on a subject that doesn’t often get talked about in the world of cinema. But there are flaws that held this movie back from being stronger than it was. Parts of Andrew’s journey were rushed and the events surrounding the kidnapping were revealed at the end of the movie. These issues make me wish the film had been two hours. The part where the news completely ignores Andrew’s return is something I found unbelievable, especially since Taming Andrew is based on true events. What I can say about this movie is how it emphasizes the point I made in my introduction, how some families don’t experience safety and happiness. A missing child or trauma can certainly be just two factors that deny families these things.
Overall score: 7.2 out of 10
Are you participating in the Home Sweet Home Blogathon? If so, which movie did you choose to write about? Let me know in the comments section!
Have fun at the movies!